One of VW's best driver's cars. Ever.
When you think of Volkswagen hatchbacks, typically the Golf comes to mind. And why wouldn’t it? After all, the Golf is one of VW’s best-selling and most popular cars and its hot hatch variants, the GTI and Golf R, are highly regarded. In overseas markets, there was also the second-gen Sirocco, which was based on the fifth-generation Golf platform. It never made it to the US.
What did come to North America was the Corrado, another compact, three-door hatchback that earned a reputation as an excellent driver’s car. Built from 1988 until 1995, the German-built Corrado shared a platform with the second-gen Golf and Jetta. It also utilized those models’ suspension, steering, and braking systems. The high-performance VR6 variant, however, was the exception. VW rightly upgraded that car’s front and rear axle assembly, among other things.
At launch, the Corrado had a choice of two engines, a 1.8-liter inline-four with 134 hp and a supercharged 1.8-liter with 158 hp. The vehicle featured here has the latter engine, linked to a five-speed manual. A four-speed automatic was optional. It wasn’t until 1992 that VW offered a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter with 134 hp but, unfortunately, it wasn’t offered for American buyers. The VR6 engine, for America, was a 2.8-liter with 179 hp. The Euro-spec model had 187 hp. It’s also important to note the VR6 was sold as the SLC (sport luxury coupe) in the US.
At this time, the Corrado was also subject to a minor styling facelift, specifically with a new front grille and fog lamps. However, 1994 was the Corrado’s final model year in the US. It stuck around for one additional year in Europe. Perhaps it’s best to think of the Corrado as a more premium hatchback over the Golf, which was intended to be an affordable vehicle for just about anyone.
If you wanted a Corrado, you had to pony up more dough. But the Corrado was more than just a premium hatchback; it was also an excellent driver’s car. The British press, for example, absolutely loved it.
Auto Express hailed it was one of VW’s best driver’s cars, and the VR6 model earned a spot on Car Magazine’s "25 Cars You Must Drive Before You Die” list. Back in 2003, then Top Gear host Richard Hammond stated the Corrado was going to be a future classic because it’s just so special. Its biggest problem, as Hammond correctly pointed out, was that it was too expensive when new and not enough people bought them. Even US publication MSN gave praise to the Corrado, again specifically to the VR6, for its great styling, handling capabilities, and for being the first VR6 variant sold in the US market. All told, VW built around 97,500 examples over seven years, and now you can buy one.
We found this one-owner 1990 VW Corrado posted on Craigslist Los Angeles for a darn reasonable $7,990. Despite its age, there is only 77,120 miles on its clock. Although the listing states it’s an automatic-equipped car, the included photos clearly indicate otherwise. Its yellow exterior looks to be in fine shape overall, as does the gray leather interior. There’s a long list of features and a CarFax report states zero accidents and no damage. It even qualifies for the CarFax buyback guarantee. Classic Volkswagen fans, especially hatchback lovers, could easily find themselves tempted to make this purchase. We wouldn’t blame them. We’re a bit tempted ourselves.